Mali says it's arrested planner of November Radisson Blu attack

Story highlights

  • Suspect in November hotel attack under arrest, Mali Defense Ministry spokesman says
  • Fawaz Ould Ahmeida was involved in other attacks, authorities say

(CNN)Authorities in Mali say they've arrested the main planner of the November 20 attack on a Radisson hotel in the capital city of Bamako.

The suspect, Fawaz Ould Ahmeida, is a member of the Islamic militant group Al Mourabitoun, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Diarran Kone, who confirmed the arrest.
    In the November attack, gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel and started indiscriminately shooting at people. At least 22 people were killed. Dozens were held hostage until Malian and United Nations security forces ended the siege hours later.
    Al Mourabitoun took responsibility for the attack, along with the group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Mauritanian news agency Alakhbar reported at the time.
    The militant group said the attack was carried out in retaliation for government aggression in northern Mali, Alakhbar reported. The group also demanded the release of prisoners in France.
    Authorities believe Ahmeida may also be responsible for planning other attacks, including the March 21 assault on the European Union training mission headquarters at Bamako's Hotel Nord Sud. No one died in that attack.
    Mali has struggled with instability and Islamist extremists for years.
    In the chaos following a March 2012 military coup, Islamist extremists created an enclave in the northern part of the country. French troops helped push the militants out of urban areas, but they have persisted in the nation's desert regions, security analysts say.